Teens have trouble buying booze at SW businesses

Southwest bars, restaurants and liquor stores refused to serve alcohol to underage patrons more often than their city counterparts, during recent city-monitored compliance checks.

City bars and restaurants said no to 85 percent of underage buyers during 2003 compliance checks, the best performance since the program began in 1998, city data revealed. In Southwest, 50 of 54 establishments passed, or 93 percent.

In 1998, restaurants and liquor stores had a 47 percent fail rate, according to the 2003 Youth Access to Alcohol Compliance Report. The numbers have improved each year.

"Proactive compliance checks of licensed beverage alcohol retailers have been a major component of organized efforts to prevent youth access to alcohol in Minneapolis," it said.

The Minneapolis Police License Investigation Division presented the report to the City Council's Public Safety and Regulatory Services Committee Dec. 3.

In 2000, the Council directed licensing staff to randomly check each alcohol retailer at least once every two years. Those that fail get checked annually for two years.

Lt. Phil Hafvenstein, commander of the license investigation division, proposed changes next year to target resources on establishments that fail a check. Licensing staff would recheck establishments that fail within 30 to 60 days under the new plan, he said.

The plan also would de-emphasize checks of well-performing businesses, putting them in a different category. Businesses that pass their two most recent compliance checks in a four year period would only have a one-in-four chance of getting a random compliance check. Other businesses would have a one-in-two chance of getting checked in a given year, Hafvenstein said.

The compliance check report gives a low-end estimate of how easily underage youth get alcohol in the city. City Councilmember Lisa Goodman (7th Ward) told committee members that youth typically get alcohol from adults -- their parents or older college friends -- not from bars, restaurants or liquor stores selling directly.

Hafvenstein said the compliance check process was "unequivocally fair."

The legal drinking age is 21, but the city's youth decoys are ages 18 and 19, not 20. The licensing staff prohibits decoys from using tricks that underage drinkers might try.

"They will not have fake IDs and will present their own valid identification if asked for one," the 2003 report said. "The minors will be instructed to respond truthfully to questions and will not be allowed to trick, deceive or lie about their age."

Minority youth decoys were twice as likely as their white counterparts to get served a drink -- 25 percent versus 13 percent, according to the 2003 report. Hafvenstein said he could not explain why the race gap existed but that it is narrowing compared to previous years.

Businesses that fail a compliance check get a $500 administrative fine for the first offense in a 24-month period, a $1,000 fine for the second violation and a $2,000 fine for the third violation. Establishments with four violations in a two-year period get referred to the Council for action.

The 2003 report said the following Southwest establishments failed a compliance check: Acadia, 1931 Nicollet Ave. S.; N.E. Thyme Caf, 4257 Nicollet; Ecopolitan, 2400 3rd Ave. S. and Sam's Food Mart, 901 W. 36th St.

Acadia, N.E. Thyme and Ecopolitan passed rechecks. The report does not indicate that Sam's got rechecked. (It was closed for part of 2003.)

The following Southwest establishments passed compliance checks:

Bryn Mawr Market, 412 Cedar Lake Rd.; Dixie's Calhoun, 2730 W. Lake St.; Sydney's Restaurant, 2120 Hennepin; Pascual's Uptown, 2528 Hennepin; Rudolph's Barbeque, 1933 Lyndale Ave. S.

Guthrie Theater, 725 Vineland Place; Auriga, 1930 Hennepin; MGM Liquor Warehouse, 3254 W. Lake; Sawatdee Uptown, 2650 Hennepin; Green Mill Too, 2626 Hennepin; Lowry Hill Liquor, 1922 Hennepin.

Walker Art Center, 725 Vineland Place; A to Z Gas Stop, 3050 1st Ave. S.; Country Bar and Grill, 3006 Lyndale; 101 Blu, 3001 Hennepin; Stop & Buy, 2401 Dupont Ave. S.; Kinhdo Restaurant, 2755 Hennepin.

El Meson, 3450 Lyndale; Kyle's Market, 826 W. 36th St.; Bryant Lake Bowl, 810 W. Lake; Herkimer Pub & Brewery, 2922 Lyndale; French Meadow Bakery & Caf, 2610 Lyndale.

Whitney's Market, 201 W. Lake; Hennepin Lake Liquor, 1200 W. Lake, Lyle's, 2021 Hennepin; Pan E Vino, 2451 Hennepin; Old Chicago, 2841 Hennepin; S-Mart Grocery, 324 W. 33rd St.

Ballentine VFW Post 246, 2916 Lyndale; Leaning Tower of Pizza, 2324 Lyndale; Soba's, 2558 Lyndale Ave.; Falafel King, 701 W. Lake; Prima Pasta Salads Panini, 5325 Lyndale.

Chipotle Mexican Grill, 3040 Excelsior Blvd.; Noodles & Company, 3040 Excelsior; Broder's Southside Pasta Bar, 5000 Penn Ave. S.; Caf Twenty-Eight, 2724 W. 43rd St.; Famous Dave's, 4264 Upton Ave. S.

Three Fish, 3070 Excelsior; France 44 Deli & Market, 4351 France Ave. S.; and Caf Bicko-Green Mill Pizza, 4501 France.

Joe's Tavern, 109 E. 26th St.; Hark's Food Market, 2401 Nicollet; El Mexicano Restaurant, 124 W. Lake; Lyndale Country Boy, 2551 Lyndale; Arts Caf, 2400 3rd Ave. S.; Azia, 2550 Nicollet; Porter's Bar & Grill, 2647 Nicollet; El Mariachi, 2750 Nicollet; and Seafood Palace, 2523 Nicollet.